American qualifiers Doherty and Lucena storm into Berlin semis
The Americans defeated 5th seeded Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira of Spain 2-1 (21-18, 17-21, 15-11) and then booked a 2-0 (27-25, 21-19) over Dutch team Jon Stiekema and Christiaan Varenhorst in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
In the semifinal on Sunday Doherty and Lucena will play Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Alison Cerutti from Brazil, who also started in the Berlin qualification tournament.
“I could not be more excited”, said Doherty, who reached his first World Tour semifinal ever. “Nick has been sick and has been playing out of his mind all week. Real bad cough, and he just keeps stepping up big in big situations and now we get to play in our first semifinal. I couldn’t be happier.”
In their match against the Dutch Doherty and Lucena had some trouble closing the first set. Both teams had opportunities, but it was the Americans who took their chance at 26-25.
The second set was close again till 16-16, when the Americans took the lead to have their first match point at 20-17. It took them another two, but at 20-19 Lucena scored the winning point.
“It’s a really good team that can do a lot of good things offensively”, said Doherty about the tall Dutch. “They had their opportunities, but me and Nick, we were able to fight it off as good as we could and stole that first one and tried to keep the pressure on in the second.” Doherty and Lucena are only in their third World Tour event together and finis
hed 17th in Shanghai and Moscow so far. Doherty played with Todd Rogers one season after his baseball career in the minor league ended, Lucena played with Matt Fuerbringer for a long time and teamed up with John Hyden for a few events last year.
“I am excited”, said Lucena. “I think we’re playing really well this tournament. We are just trying to be in the moment and enjoy it. Ryan is playing really well. Playing with him is a lot easier. Last year I was a blocker next to Hyden, now I am back to defence again.”
First semi too for Hyden and Bourne
USA and Brazil also supply the teams in the other semifinal. USA’s John Hyden and Tri Bourne, also qualifiers, will face Emanuel Rego and Pedro Solberg Salgado.
Hyden and Bourne eliminated Canada’s Hatch/Redmann (21-16, 21-16) and Moscow’s silver medallists Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel in the quarterfinals (15-21, 21-17, 15-12).
“It’s our first year on the tour, so we are happy about it”, said Bourne about reaching their first semifinal. “We just played as hard as we could and ended on top.”
Bourne and Hyden already beat their semifinal opponents Emanuel and Pedro in the pool phase in Berlin. “Every game is a new game, so we’ll see what happens. We have high expectations of ourselves. We have made finals before on the tour back home and we know that guys who win our tour can win out here. We have already put ourself at the same level as the top guys here.”
Emanuel and Pedro defeated their fellow Brazilians Ricardo Santos and Alvaro Morais Filho in a tough three setter (14-21, 21-18, 15-13) and Latvia’s top team Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins 2-0 (21-18, 22-20).
“We played better today, more consistent on side-outs and we never gave up in this game against Latvia, because we were behind many times”, said Emanuel.
The Brazilian veteran, who has won and seen it all, was very content with the Berlin centre court on Washingtonplatz. “Since we started to play on the centre court we played better, the sand is really good, the atmosphere. The other tournaments should take this as a model.”